How to respond to disappointment

Download Article Co-authored by Sheila A. Anderson Last Updated: August 16, 2021 References Download Article X

How to respond to disappointment

Download Article   Co-authored by Sheila A. Anderson

Last Updated: August 16, 2021 References

Download Article X

This article was co-authored by Sheila A. Anderson. Sheila A. Anderson is a Certified Image Consultant, International Branding Icon, and the Founder of Image Power Play, an impression management and personal branding company. With over three decades of experience, she specializes in empowering corporate professionals to raise their personal image to meet the value of their brand. Sheila is a Certified Image Consultant with The Image Resource Network and a Certified Universal Style Consultant with The Universal Style International. Sheila is a member of the C-Suite Network Advisors and the author of the book, I.C.U., The Comprehensive Guide to Breathing Life Back Into Your Personal Brand.

There are 12 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

This article has been viewed 105,553 times.

If someone disappoints you or something disappointing happens to you, its completely normal to feel upset, frustrated, or downright angry. But, oftentimes, the best response is to be calm and collected so you can voice your concerns and disappointment professionally. Expressing yourself professionally isnt difficult to do if you keep a cool head and maintain your composure. Whether you choose to communicate your frustration by email, letter, or in person, its all about using the right language and conducting yourself properly.

Steps

Method 1Method 1 of 3:Sending a Professional Email

1Use email to express disappointment about a work-related issue. If youre disappointed with a coworker or manager, email is a great way to express your disappointment, while also keeping a digital record in the event that future problems occur. You could also send an email if youre turned down for a potential job opportunity.[1] X Research source Go to source

  • An email is also a good way to communicate your disappointment to your boss if they denied a request for something like a vacation or an idea that you suggested.
  • Even though it may hurt your feelings, its always a good idea to send a follow-up email after being rejected for a job.

2Write a short and direct subject line if youre drafting an original email. Be concise and clearly indicate what the email is about in the subject line. Avoid using a long sentence or rude language to make your email appear more professional so the recipient will take it more seriously. Choose a subject that isnt longer than 5 words and type it into the subject line of the email.[2] X Research source Go to source

  • For instance, if youre writing an email to a coworker about a missed deadline, you could include a subject line that looks like, "Missed Shipping Deadline."

Note: If youre responding to an email, such as an email notifying you that you were turned down for a potential job, reply to the original email rather than composing a new one so you have an organized record of your correspondence.

3Start your email with a professional greeting to set the tone. Open your email with a formal greeting so its clear from the beginning that your email is professional. Choose a greeting that is appropriate for your relationship with the person. For instance, if youre on a first-name basis with a manager named Matthew Smith, you could start your email like, "Dear Matt."[3] X Research source Go to source

  • If you have a very open and casual relationship with the recipient, you could say something like, Hey Matt."
  • If youre writing an email to someone that youve never met, start with To whom it may concern."
  • For group emails with multiple recipients that you want to address, simply say, "All."

4Add a short pleasantry to keep the email friendly. After you greet the recipient, make the first line of your email a short aside or pleasant exchange that shows that youre friendly but professional. Keep it short and dont go over 2 or 3 lines of small talk before you get to the meat of your email.[4] X Research source Go to source

  • Try starting with something like, "I hope youre doing well" or "I hope this email finds you well."
  • If your relationship is casual with the person, you could mention a personal detail such as, "I hope you had a great time at the concert last weekend."

5State your disappointment clearly in the body of the email.[5] X Expert Source

Sheila A. Anderson
Certified Image Consultant & International Branding Icon Expert Interview.  19 July 2021 Go to source  Once youve set the stage for your email with a greeting and a short pleasantry, get right to the business of expressing your disappointment. Tell them clearly how you feel, but keep your language formal and avoid using sarcasm, threats, or profanity so you appear as professional as possible. List all of your complaints and keep the body of your email to 1 paragraph if possible so the email is focused on the subject at hand.[6] X Research source Go to source

  • For example, if you were turned down for a potential job, you could say something like, "Im sorry to hear that you decided to go in a different direction. I was looking forward to the opportunity, so Im disappointed in the decision to hire somebody else."
  • If youre writing to a coworker or employee to express your disappointment, you could say something like, "Its come to my attention that certain policies and procedures havent been followed properly. The policies exist for a reason, so its disappointing to learn that theyve been ignored."

6Keep your language and tone respectful throughout the email. Use formal and respectful language to clearly convey your disappointment without making the recipient feel like youre personally attacking them.[7] X Expert Source

Sheila A. Anderson
Certified Image Consultant & International Branding Icon Expert Interview.  19 July 2021 Go to source  Imagine how the writing would be perceived if it were read by somebody else or if it went public and craft your writing to be a professional representation of yourself.[8] X Research source Go to source

  • If youre emailing an employee or a manager, its possible your email may be shared with other people, so its important that your writing is respectful and professional.
  • For instance, instead of saying something like, "I dont understand what your problem is and why you refuse to follow procedure," say something like, "As weve previously discussed, the procedures are designed to keep everyone on the same page, so they should be followed by everyone."

7Conclude your email on a positive note and a call to action. Wrap up your email by including actionable information such as setting up a meeting or inviting the recipient to come to you if they have any questions. Include a few positive notes as well. Mention things that you are happy about or praise the person for something that theyve done well so they feel like youre not just berating them, but have their best interests at heart.[9] X Research source Go to source

  • For example, you could say to your interviewer, "But, Im thankful for the opportunity to interview with your company. Please do let me know if something opens up in the future!"
  • If youre writing to an employee or coworker, try something like, "I know youve been working really hard on this, I just wanted to bring the issues that Im having to your attention so you can keep an eye out for any future potential problems."

8Read the email out loud before you send it to hear how it sounds. Take a moment to read your entire email out loud so you can hear the tone of your writing and proofread for any spelling or grammatical errors. If you find any typos, misspellings, or clunky language, fix it! If your tone is too soft or too harsh, adjust the language so its professional but firm. When youre satisfied with it send it off to the person its intended for.[10] X Research source Go to source

  • You could also have a friend or coworker read over your email before you send it to make sure it sounds okay.
  • Spelling errors or missing words can really throw off the impact of your email so take your time to proofread your writing.

Method 2Method 2 of 3:Writing a Formal Complaint Letter

1Send a letter to a company or if you havent been able to get a response. If youre disappointed with a product or the behavior of a company, writing a formal letter detailing your complaint is the most professional way to communicate with them. If you havent been able to get in touch with someone through any other means, use a formal letter as a last resort to express your disappointment and detail your issues.[11] X Research source Go to source

  • You can also use a letter as a last attempt to prove that you tried to contact someone to discuss your problem with them.

2State your issue clearly in the first sentence. Whatever it is that youre disappointed about, make it clear right off the bat by putting it in the very first sentence of your letter. Be direct and concise and state your problem or complaint clearly and professionally to set the tone for your entire letter.[12] X Trustworthy Source Consumer Reports Nonprofit organization dedicated to consumer advocacy and product testing Go to source

  • For example, if youre writing to a company to complain about a policy that affected you, you could start with, "I write to express my frustration and disappointment with your companys return policy."
  • If youre writing a letter to someone you havent been able to reach, try starting with something like, "Im writing this letter in regards to your failure to respond to my questions about my security deposit after being unable to reach you by phone or email."

3Use the body of your letter to add details and information related to your issue. Once youve stated your disappointment and issue, use the rest of your letter to add specific details and information to expand your letter and explain your frustration. Mention any steps youve taken to resolve your issue as well as efforts youve made to reach out to them for assistance.[13] X Research source Go to source

Tip: If youve tried to reach out to them or theyve made promises to address your concerns, mention the dates that you tried to contact them or they committed to fixing the problem.

4Avoid angry, sarcastic, or threatening language in your letter. Throughout your letter, keep your language and tone formal and professional. Never use profanity or threatening language and avoid sarcasm so your writing appears as professional as possible.[14] X Trustworthy Source Federal Trade Commission Website with up-to-date information for consumers from the Federal Trade Commisson Go to source

  • If you ever have to produce your letter for a court case, you want to make yourself look as professional as you can.
  • Cursing or using violent language will make you seem aggressive and unprofessional.

5Include copies of any documents relevant to your complaint. If you have pictures, contracts, or any other documents that back up or prove your claims, make a copy of them and attach them to your letter. Make sure you reference them in your letter to add even more validity to any claims that you make.[15] X Trustworthy Source Federal Trade Commission Website with up-to-date information for consumers from the Federal Trade Commisson Go to source

  • For example, in your letter you could say something like, "Ive attached pictures of what the finished product looked like, which as you can see, is far from satisfactory."

6Add your contact information after your conclusion. End your letter with a paragraph that summarizes your main concerns and the actions youd like taken to resolve them. If you want the person or company to get in touch with you to try to fix the problem or discuss the matter further, be sure to include your contact information at the bottom.[16] X Trustworthy Source Federal Trade Commission Website with up-to-date information for consumers from the Federal Trade Commisson Go to source

  • Sign the letter with a formal closing such as, "Yours truly," "Sincerely," or "Respectfully" followed by your name.
  • Give the phone number or email address that you want them to use to reach out to you.

7Send the letter using certified mail so it has to be signed for. Use certified mail or a letter delivery option that requires the recipient to sign for it so you have proof that it was received. Keep the receipt in case you ever need to prove that you wrote them a letter or provide it for a court case.[17] X Research source Go to source

Method 3Method 3 of 3:Speaking to Someone Professionally

1Talk to someone directly if you dont want it on the record. If you prefer to express your disappointment without a paper trail or without being worried about having your conversation scrutinized later, a face-to-face conversation is the way to go. Additionally, a direct conversation with someone allows you to gauge their reactions and adds a more personal touch.[18] X Research source Go to source

  • It can also often be much quicker to simply talk to someone that youre disappointed with.
  • Talking to someone allows you to use your own body language and tone of voice to really convey your frustration or disappointment.

2Ask the person to meet with you privately to discuss the issue. Talk to the person away from other people so youre able to express yourself freely without potentially embarrassing them.[19] X Expert Source

Sheila A. Anderson
Certified Image Consultant & International Branding Icon Expert Interview.  19 July 2021 Go to source  Schedule a meeting or ask them to meet you somewhere like a conference room, office, or even a coffee shop so its more professional.[20] X Trustworthy Source Harvard Business Review Online and print journal covering topics related to business management practices Go to source

  • Give them a call or send them an email to ask them what time and place is best for them.
  • If you find yourself in a situation where you cannot state your disappointment privately, try to remain as professional as you can and keep your composure in check.[21] X Expert Source

Sheila A. Anderson
Certified Image Consultant & International Branding Icon Expert Interview.  19 July 2021 Go to source

Tip: If you need to talk to them immediately, tell them something like, "Do you have a quick moment? I need to speak with you."

3Start the conversation by thanking them and asking how theyre doing. Before you start expressing your disappointment, take a moment to thank the person for taking the time to meet with you and gauge their mood. Ask them how theyre doing and if theyre prepared to talk with you about the issue. If they seem angry or agitated, try to calm them down or wait to speak with them later. If they seem fine, then go ahead and start discussing your problem or issue.[22] X Trustworthy Source Harvard Business Review Online and print journal covering topics related to business management practices Go to source

  • Starting off on the right foot will help the conversation go smoothly and professionally.
  • For example, you could begin by saying something like, "Thanks so much for your time. I wont take too long, I just really need to discuss something with you."

4State your complaint clearly and directly. Tell the person why youre disappointed using specific and unemotional language. Be direct and objective and list all of the reasons youre dissatisfied, but avoid berating them with a list of wrongdoings. Use calm, professional language to convey your feelings and avoid raising your voice or using profanities.[23] X Research source Go to source

  • Yelling and cursing will only make you seem aggressive and unprofessional.
  • For instance, tell them how you feel without getting overly emotional. You could say something like, "When you do something like that, it really makes me feel like you dont care about how it affects me, and to be honest, its hurtful and disappointing.
  1. 5Ask them if they have any questions before you end your meeting. Once youve expressed your disappointment and explained your reasoning, give the person a chance to talk. Ask them if they have any questions for you or if theyre unclear about anything that you told them so there isnt any confusion. Then, thank them again for meeting with you before you end the conversation.[24] X Trustworthy Source Harvard Business Review Online and print journal covering topics related to business management practices Go to source
  • If possible, offer solutions or improvements for the future.[25] X Expert Source

Sheila A. Anderson
Certified Image Consultant & International Branding Icon Expert Interview.  19 July 2021 Go to source

Expert Q&A

  • Question How do I express my dissatisfaction at work?

Sheila A. Anderson Certified Image Consultant & International Branding Icon Expert Answer Find a private place to express your disappointment, like an email, phone call, or video call.

  • Question How do I complain nicely?

Sheila A. Anderson Certified Image Consultant & International Branding Icon Expert Answer Start by sharing why you're dissatisfied or disappointed. Then, explain in detail why you feel this way. Be ready to suggest possible improvements or solutions for this issue.

Tips

  • Never type up an email, write a letter, or have a conversation while youre angry. Take a few breaths to calm yourself down before you begin so you have a clear head.
  • Avoid having a conversation with someone in front of other people. Wait until theyre available to talk and meet with them in private.

Warnings

  • Dont raise your voice or use profanities when youre speaking to a coworker or manager or you could come off as threatening and aggressive.

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References

  1. https://www.fastcompany.com/40431961/how-to-write-a-work-email-when-youre-really-pissed-off
  2. https://www.businessinsider.com/email-etiquette-rules-every-professional-needs-to-know-2016-1
  3. https://www.businessinsider.com/email-etiquette-rules-every-professional-needs-to-know-2016-1#use-exclamation-points-sparingly-6
  4. https://www.businessinsider.com/email-etiquette-rules-every-professional-needs-to-know-2016-1#nothing-is-confidential-so-write-accordingly-15
  5. Sheila A. Anderson. Certified Image Consultant & International Branding Icon. Expert Interview. 19 July 2021
  6. https://www.inc.com/jayson-demers/how-to-voice-concerns-without-seeming-negative.html
  7. Sheila A. Anderson. Certified Image Consultant & International Branding Icon. Expert Interview. 19 July 2021
  8. https://www.forbes.com/sites/dailymuse/2013/11/19/an-editors-guide-to-writing-ridiculously-good-emails/#3308d4195c55
  9. https://www.forbes.com/sites/dailymuse/2013/11/19/an-editors-guide-to-writing-ridiculously-good-emails/#3308d4195c55More References (16)
  10. https://www.fastcompany.com/40431961/how-to-write-a-work-email-when-youre-really-pissed-off
  11. https://www.fastcompany.com/40431961/how-to-write-a-work-email-when-youre-really-pissed-off
  12. https://www.consumerreports.org/staticroot/consumerist/heres-a-sample-complaint-letter-for-when-you-dont-know-what-to-say/
  13. https://www.lexico.com/grammar/letters-of-complaint
  14. https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2015/09/how-write-effective-complaint-letter
  15. https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2015/09/how-write-effective-complaint-letter
  16. https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2015/09/how-write-effective-complaint-letter
  17. https://www.usps.com/ship/insurance-extra-services.htm
  18. https://www.fastcompany.com/40431961/how-to-write-a-work-email-when-youre-really-pissed-off
  19. Sheila A. Anderson. Certified Image Consultant & International Branding Icon. Expert Interview. 19 July 2021
  20. https://hbr.org/2018/05/the-next-time-you-want-to-complain-at-work-do-this-instead
  21. Sheila A. Anderson. Certified Image Consultant & International Branding Icon. Expert Interview. 19 July 2021
  22. https://hbr.org/2018/05/the-next-time-you-want-to-complain-at-work-do-this-instead
  23. https://www.inc.com/jayson-demers/how-to-voice-concerns-without-seeming-negative.html
  24. https://hbr.org/2018/05/the-next-time-you-want-to-complain-at-work-do-this-instead
  25. Sheila A. Anderson. Certified Image Consultant & International Branding Icon. Expert Interview. 19 July 2021

About This Article

Co-authored by: Sheila A. Anderson Certified Image Consultant & International Branding Icon This article was co-authored by Sheila A. Anderson. Sheila A. Anderson is a Certified Image Consultant, International Branding Icon, and the Founder of Image Power Play, an impression management and personal branding company. With over three decades of experience, she specializes in empowering corporate professionals to raise their personal image to meet the value of their brand. Sheila is a Certified Image Consultant with The Image Resource Network and a Certified Universal Style Consultant with The Universal Style International. Sheila is a member of the C-Suite Network Advisors and the author of the book, I.C.U., The Comprehensive Guide to Breathing Life Back Into Your Personal Brand.  This article has been viewed 105,553 times.   Co-authors:  8 Updated: August 16, 2021 Views:105,553 Article Rating:60% - 17 votes Categories: Disappointment In other languagesEspañol:expresar decepción de forma profesional Bahasa Indonesia:Menyampaikan Ketidakpuasan secara Profesional Português:Expressar sua Frustração de Forma Profissional Deutsch:Enttäuschung professionell ausdrücken Nederlands:Teleurstelling op een professionele wijze uiten

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